Do you love being different by wearing few-of-a-kind fashions? Are you envious of the sensuality Liz exuded in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? Wearing vintage slips may be the perfect answer for you. The quality fabrics, unique trims and meticulous construction of slips manufactured decades ago cannot be duplicated. You’ll be thrilled to add one or more to your underpinnings wardrobe. Before you make a decision to buy, do your homework, especially if you want to splurge on a high-end piece. Here is some advice to consider when buying a half or full vintage slip from an online dealer:
* Proper Edwardian ladies wore romantic white cotton petticoats and chemises, many intricately embroidered and embellished with fine lace.
* During the 1920s, women yearned for less restrictive clothing and slips were made of delicate silk designed in straight, comfortable styles with beautiful trimmings.
* As the 1930s and 1940s progressed, slips were designed to accentuate a woman’s form and allow movement utilizing rayon satin fabrics and bias-cut styling.
* 1950s – the era of Hollywood sex symbols. Slips still emphasized femininity and were predominately nylon lavished with lace, appliqués and chiffon. A woman wanting to dress with less fuss could choose an all-in-one bra and girdle slip complete with stocking garters. Rustling crinolines to fill out full-skirted dresses were all the rage.
* The ’60s arrived and women’s fashions changed drastically. As the hemlines rose, the length of slips followed suit. Reflecting the era of hippies and free love, bold colors and psychedelic prints prevailed. Full slips with built-in bras were a popular choice.
* The next two decades offered many styles including long lengths to wear under ’70s maxi dresses and spandex to complement the close-fitting power skirts of the ’80s.
* Vanity Fair – famous for exquisite designs and producing sensuous, nearly sheer Antron III nylon.
* Van Raalte – known for producing incredible slips that are highly sought after by today’s collectors.
* Aristocraft – many of their ’50s slips are quite fancy with ruched chiffon and lace.
* Fischer – very collectible silk and rayon slips trimmed with lace from the 1940s.
* Barbizon – offered lovely slips in silk, rayon and nylon in a wide variety of sizes.
Generally, if bust size 36 or waist size 28 is on the tag, it correctly corresponds to modern dimensions. When sizes are indicated as 16 or Large, they usually do not comport with modern sizing. Women were smaller decades ago so accurate measurements are important. Always ask for all pertinent numbers including bust, waist, hips and length. If there is stretch in the bust or waist, ask for relaxed and maximum stretch measurements. Measure a similar undergarment you own to ascertain whether the fit will be comfortable.
Condition is a key element of choosing a vintage slip. Many women improperly stored their undergarments in hot attics or damp basements which are damaging to textiles, especially silk. Washing and drying lingerie in machines resulted in tears, pulls and pilling. Some homemakers attempted alterations with poor results. Ask the dealer if any apparent alterations were made, if the fabric is supple with no dry rot and if mildew stains or musty odors are present. Issues such as holes, stains, tears, fading and discoloration should be fully stated in the description since they affect price. Inquire if in doubt – a reputable merchant should answer any questions in a prompt and thorough manner.
Prices can range from $10.00 for a simple half slip to hundreds of dollars for a 1930s Juel Park silk and lace beauty. Van Raalte slips with pleats and copious lace may fetch up to $200.00 or more depending on condition, color and size. Vanity Fair pieces with fancy trim can sell for $50.00 to $175.00. Compare those prices for such high quality designs to the cheap, mass-produced slips of today and you still have a bargain.
Now you have the basic knowledge that will help avoid disappointments when making your first purchase of a vintage slip. Don’t be dazzled by the photos and neglect to read the description. Remember, it costs nothing to ask questions and gather information. Your ultimate goal is a satisfying buy that you can enjoy for years to come.
Please stop by our Lingerie store in the French Quarter (831 Chartres Street; boutique phone 504-522-8861) for a huge variety of vintage slips.